What happened?

I knew race judges had some leeway. I’ve seen many times where the race judges have adjusted a stage cut off time in order to allow a rather large grupetto to continue racing. But is this a little too much discretion?

I’m a fan of Levi Leipheimer however I just don’t feel good about the current home field advantage he is enjoying. I thought the UCI decision moving out the “crash” rule from 1 to 3kilometers was a good decision. This keeps the GC contenders from having to mix it up with the sprinters during the hectic last few kilometers of a race. Ever since the famous “Red Train” of Mario Cipollini redefined sprinting lead outs, it became imperative that the last three kilometers became protected.

In yesterday’s stage of the Tour of California, a crash happened ten kilometers from the finish. The college of commisaires stepped in fifteen minutes after the race finished, announcing they were extending the UCI’s three kilometer”crash” rule to where the crash occurred. My guess is that since the finish was three circuits around downtown Santa Rosa this warranted this adjustment. Criteriums are very popular in the US so a (crit inspired) circuit finish is relatively unique to ProTour riders in a major stage race. This may be the reason for bending the rule.

Either way when a crash happens to the race leader in his home town and the rule bending allows him to keep his lead, something does not sit right. Ask George Hincapie who lost his lead in the ENECO Tour to the man who took him down in the final 100 meters of the final stage.

Crashes are part of the game. Winning a stage race is a combination of preparation and luck. Let’s keep it that way.

Additional note: I’ve had a couple of emails and one comment on how Race judges are chosen and who they are. This link from the UCI should provide more information.


4 Responses to What happened?

  1. Ed says:

    With some Europeans’ lingering resentment of Lance, Floyd Landis’s and other American cyclists’ recent doping troubles, the U.S. should avoid at all costs, the appearance of “home cooking” when it hosts a stage race.

    Sure, an American win in the ToC will advance the popularity of cycling on this side of the pond, but not if it’s perceived that there were judges’ favorites.

    Question for Jim: are the judges for the ToC international cycling judges, or American?

  2. pelotonjim says:

    From the UCI.

    UCI International Commissaires are licenced with their National
    Federation, but their appointment at international events is
    decided by the UCI. However at most of the events entered on
    the calendar, the UCI only appoints an International Commissaire
    who will chair the Commissaires’ Panel and not all those who
    are on the panel. These members are chosen by the National
    Federation of the host country. It is only for major events like
    UCI World Championships and World Cups, the UCI ProTour and
    the Olympic Games that several members of the Commissaires’
    Panel are appointed by the UCI.

    The Tour of California’s International Commissaire is Fabrizio Darnellio. The rest are from USA cycling.

  3. Theresa says:

    BUT; bending the rules isn’t just in the US. Remember the Paris-Roubiax train fiasco? That showed favortism to Tom Boonen. That was a mess. I still think Levi would have had no trouble getting the jersey back. And we have to play by the rules, but the Crit is not something that the Euros that don’t race here are used too. I wish the decision would have been different; but it’s early in the race.
    Oh, and remember the race, last year?. the breakaway(including 2 discovery riders) had some good time on the peleton, and the peleton went the wrong way! By the time they got everyone back on course, they neutralized those times, too! that was in Europe!

  4. pelotonjim says:

    True, True. BUT, in Paris-Roubaix the riders who were disqualified were also Belgian (Peter van Pettigam, and Leif Hoste). Yes, you don’t want to DQ the biggest star in the race. But Tom should have been DQ’d if Peter and Leif were.

    You make a good point and I want Levi to take this race. I just want it above reproach. I also like to have the luck factor remain.

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